Why Legalizing Marijuana in New Jersey is a Mistake

marijuanaThe legalization of marijuana seems to be sweeping the country. There are now twenty three states in the country which have some form of legalization (primarily medical), and four states which have it fully legalized for recreational purposes. Almost all of New England, most of the west coast, and patches of the Midwest have now legalized medical marijuana.
The wave is spreading throughout the other states in the union and shows no signs of stopping. New Jersey has already legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The state is now considering full legalization of marijuana, which could have difficult repercussions. The federal government has found that in the last two decades or so, marijuana has increased in strength by more than three times. More “designer” strains of marijuana come with as high a potency as 36%.

EFFECTS ON THE BODY

For a long time, most people thought that marijuana was a harmless drug, capable only of creating a mellow high in users. However, various studies done more recently have shown that in adolescents, whose brains are still developing, the regular use of marijuana can cost each youth 6 to 8 IQ points. Further, brain development doesn’t actually stop until the mid to late twenties.
This means that adults who may think they’re out of danger (having passed the age of 18) and are legally consuming marijuana could actually cause years of damage to their brains. Marijuana also affects other areas of the brain, like those governing judgment, decision making and impulse control. This is a dangerous combination, which New Jersey residents don’t need any more than anybody else.

LEARNING FROM OTHER STATES

In Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana use starting in the beginning of 2014, the number of children going to the hospital for marijuana ingestion has spiked, along with the number of teens entering rehab for marijuana addiction issues. Part of the reason for this is the fact that adults now have much less restricted access to all types of marijuana products. Edibles, like lollipops, brownies and the like, are increasingly popular and children don’t always recognize the difference between the marijuana products and normal sweets.
As studies are now showing in Colorado and Washington (two of the vanguard states for full legalization) legalization of the drug doesn’t actually reduce demand for it. This was the speculation and was something that pro-legalization advocates pushed for—if we take it off the black market, the argument went, it will lose some of its allure and use will die away. In reality, both Colorado and Washington have shown an increase in the rate of usage, by about 3% in each case. It has only taken about a year for this to happen. What’s the statistic going to look like when legal marijuana has been around for a few years and seems even more “normal” than it does now? When people have settled into the idea of smoking a joint as readily as they would enjoy a cigarette?
In addition to all this, New Jersey is struggling with a significant heroin problem which is already taxing public health resources. This is a problem throughout most of the states in New England. They are already struggling with the lack of beds available for residential treatment. Adding marijuana as a legal drug into this already volatile mix is a recipe for disaster.
As Colorado residents have experienced, they are getting increased traffic from across state lines as residents of other states come seeking a legal high. In New England, where the states are so much smaller and packed more closely together, this means that New Jersey would be courting drug-related traffic from up to twelve neighboring states, all of which are within a day’s drive.

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